Lewis H. Morehouse, U.S. Navy
World War II Gunner's mate - Loader Gun 1, Hot Shell Man, 3 inch Anti-Air, 20 MM
Medals and Awards - American Area Campaign, Asiatic Pacific Campaign, Presidential Unit Citation 1 Bronze Star, WW Victory Medal, New York State Conspicuous Service.
Married - Gladys (Bray) Morehouse on July 11,1946.
Children - John and Jean.
Grandchildren - Valerie, Scott, Stacy, John and Gary.
Great-grandchildren - Brody, Kara Ann, Kyle Alan and Nicole.
Morehouse was born in Lake George, N.Y. on Nov. 8, 1922. He is the son of Clarence and Lean (Murdock) Morehouse. He had the honor to share his birthday with his father Clarence whose birthday is also Nov. 8, 1880.
Morehouse shared the Lake George home with his two sisters, Grace, the oldest; and Nancy. Morehouse remembers his younger years growing up in their Lake George west side home three miles on the east side out of town. His home, he recalled, had no electricity, no running water, not even a sewer system. The only modern device in his home has an old crankphone. He recalled it had more than one party on the line. His dad was fortunate to land a job on the WPA, Works Projects Administration. His job was building the various sewer systems around the Lake George municipal system.
Morehouse went to Lake George Union School from grades kindergarten through 10th grade. He enjoyed basketball and baseball.
He really didn't have time to play because his father demanded that all family chores had to be done before the thought of sports could ever come up. Morehouse's chores included taking care of the families farm cows, pigs, chickens, and horses. All the farm animals had to be watered and fed every day by Lewis.
Morehouse enjoyed an abundance of water sports, including swimming and camping, in the summer. In the winter he enjoyed plenty of ice fishing and lake ice skating once his chores were finished. He remembers the winter of 1936. The temperature got to 55 below and the lake totally froze over. This allowed people to do ice horse racing - sharp shawed - along with over 300 cars on the lake for a half mile race.
On March 5, 1942, Morehouse's sister drove him to Glens Falls to enlist in the Navy. He had to have his father's signature because he was only 20 years old. After a stop with his father at the local notary, he was ready to enlist. After signing pages of naval papers he was off to Albany for his naval physical.
His next stop was to Rhode Island for 6 1/2 weeks of boot camp. This was a new naval boot camp and he couldn't forget all the mud. There was mud everywhere. He had to wear rubber over his shoes or it was hell for inspections because he had to keep his shoes shining. No rifles were used for marching. The Navy handed him wooden-looking rifles. It seemed useless to carry around this piece of wood that looked like a rifle.
Morehouse was promised a seven-day leave, which didn't happen. Orders came in and he needed to go to Chicago immediately to start a newly formed gunnery school. Leave was put on hold. We were at war.
After gunnery school and with a nine-day leave promised again, however, he couldn't leave when orders said to proceed immediately to Norfolk, Va. He met up with the USS Greene (DD13). This four stacker had him assigned to the deck force whose duty was to maintain all items to keep this new naval vessel afloat, knowing it was sailing in harm's way. The Greene was headed to Guantanamo Bay for its shakedown cruise.
It refueled and the captain announced orders for sailing to Trinidad and the port of Spain. The Greene's (DD13) primary mission was to escort various merchant ships around Rio. Recalling one night where two ships trying to get into port on an extremely foggy night. They lost contact calling on the TBS, talking between ships, radio. All ships were told to stop immediately when the extremely foggy night faded with the early morning sun. The three ships were exposed. These ships were within a handshake of each other, actually two seaman shaking hands from ship to ship. Morehouse recalled it was as if God was watching the ships. They were in 600 feet of water.
Morehouse did convoys and went back and forth between the states as normal. He still waited for his first leave.
The Greene was finally headed to the states for much needed repairs and updating. Morehouse finally got a three-day leave to go home.
He was very excited, however, on the way he realized by the time he got home he would need to return the same day. He knew the penalty and realized that he would not make it so he ended up with his next pay day leaving him $21. He was fined $8 for each late day.
Once the ship was repaired and updated, the Greene headed for St. John's Newfoundland on Oct. 16, 1942. He crossed the equator, going through all the rituals. He received the Imperivm Netpvni Regis - a certificate given to sailors who crossed the equator. After reaching its destination, he was able to participate in his naval duties. He brought many convoy escorts including meeting up with carriers such as the USS Vouge and the Intrepid and many destroyers. His ship had the chance to witness 13 enemy ship sinkings.
As a gunner's mate his duties could change from loader hot shell, man shoot, 3 inch anti-air gun, and 20 mm. A 20 mm was a hot shell man who throws to the side casings that were fired in order to keep the area safe for the next shot. One duty one night was to fire a star shell that would light up the sky hoping that the close destroyers could see enemy subs surfacing at night to recharge their batteries. Morehouse had fired many of these fire missions as part of his duties. Other areas of duty included the Matsuo Atoll island chain, Bay of Byscane, Brazil, Casablanca, the Azores and Bermuda.
New orders sent him to the USS John Hood (DD655) ammunition carrier. This ship was now heading to the Panama Canal to meet up with another destroyer to join nine additional fleets. There class destroyers formed the ninth fleet with three marble head class cruisers in route to join. Morehouse had the opportunity to serve on the USS Thomas Gary and participated in its decomissioning.
Morehouse had special memories of his service time. He remembered the four Christmases he spent while in the service. During the Christmas of 1942 he was in Recefie, Brazil; 1943 in the Bay of Byscane; 1944, at sea; 1945 in Charleston, S.C. His next story left me with a smile on my face. While Morehouse was on the USS Hood he ran into and became friends with Clarence Burch from Brocton. They became friends since it was close to his home in Lake George. Clarence enjoyed writing letters to his home in Brocton and many local girls.
Clarence asked Morehouse if he would be interested in writing to a girl from Fredonia. He agreed and was given the name and address of Ruth Bray from Fredonia. He and Ruth corresponded during the months and when he received his first leave, his plan was to visit New York and meet Ruth. The day finally came and he was invited to Fredonia to meet Ruth at a summer get together at 116 Seymour St. At the party, Lewis met Ruth and was introduced to everyone except for Ruth's sister Gladys. He returned to the USS Hood only to get a letter from Ruth stating she was getting serious with Bob Miller from Brocton and that writing her wouldn't be proper. Ruth felt sorry for Lewis so she advised him to write to her sister Gladys. As the story goes the letters between Gladys and Lewis kept coming. It ended up with a marriage proposal through the mail. The marriage proposal was accepted, through the mail. Morehouse came home and met Gladys and the 1946 wedding was celebrated.
Lewis came home with 75 days leave due on the books and $140 in his pocket. His first job was at Russo Winery as a filler. Looking for better employment, the Red Wing Co. hired him as a line sealer and forklift driver. The next job he worked at was Allegany Steel, driving a forklift and a job in the kneeling room. His last job was at King Windows of Dunkirk where he retired as a manager in 1985.
As I wrap up my Lewis Morehouse story, I am really fascinated by how life was for these World War II veterans. No television, no Internet, no cell phone. All your trust was put into your captain and crew when you were assigned on a ship.
How far does one go on a 300-foot ship with the ocean surrounding you? Where would we as Americans be if all these men and women in 1942 said no, I'm not going. Everyone not volunteering and everyone being drafted in the Army.
These sailors, soldiers, air men, Marines, and Coast Guard veterans are all heroes. Lewis Morehouse is one of these heroes. It's just sad that we waited so long to tell him so.